India 2015 – Day 1

Well actually I suppose that it was really Day One and A Half as it started at home on Monday afternoon with the dog gone to stay with Olive and Nelly, the house pimped and polished and all the packing done. So an easy drive to Birmingham Airport and time to kill as I always allow extra time for delays on the road. We dropped the bags off only to be told that the flight was delayed but as I had booked us into one of the lounges it didn’t matter as we were nice and comfortable.

I don’t like flying and an hour of extra delay doesn’t improve things but eventually we got away heading for Dubai (hot, lot of sand) and on to Delhi. I slept
a bit but it did give me the time to watch the recent Paddington movie which I enjoyed. Thank you to Nell (aged 4) for the recommendation.

At Delhi Airport things don’t seem to happen with any feeling of urgency but everyone was most perfectly polite and we were amused by what appeared to be students wearing face masks and plastic gloves who represented India’s front line in the battle against Ebola and where the only obviously African person was singled out for extra testing.

We were met by the immaculate young man from our tour company and our car and driver for the hour long drive to our hotel, this amount of time surprised me but at that point I had no idea about Delhi traffic or Delhi driving!

I’ve driven in places where I thought the local drivers were completely insane but nothing had prepared me for this. If there are two lanes separated by a white line, no one drives in the lanes but everyone tries to drive down the white lin; everyone is constantly changing lanes but nobody actually signals and all this is accompanied by a clamour of hooting. But the most extraordinary thing is that all this is carried out with a total lack of aggression and somehow it all works.

On first viewing Delhi is extraordinary; coming straight from home at this time of year it seems strange to see trees with their leaves on for a start. And it is so obviously “other” and foreign; the amazingly decorated trucks, the unfamiliar cars of all makes and vintages including ones that were familiar at home in the 1950s and 60s and everywhere the tiny green motorised rickshaws. Crowds of men everywhere busy not doing anything; the buildings; the smells. The flocks of Black Kites patrolling the skies (known by British soldiers as Shite Hawks), the parakeets in the trees.

And yet it is strangely familiar, they drive on the left; much of the architecture is typically British; suddenly you will see a road sign to Connaught Place or somewhere similar but mostly the gardens in the public spaces are just so obviously English. And very beautiful too at the moment.

So we arrived thankfully at our hotel, the Oberoi Maidens Hotel, an oasis of peace in the midst of the chaos outside. Dating from the early twentieth century it is all charm and tradition. And when the reception manager whispered the magic words “… and we’ve upgraded you to a Luxury Suite” I knew that things were looking good. And they are.

After all our travelling we both fell into the enormous bed and went straight to sleep but were up and about an hour or so later to meet our tour company agent to receive our itinerary and discuss timings etcetera. Then a quick beer in the bar before dinner and bed.

Tomorrow it starts for real and there will be photos too. I do hope that you will join us on our adventure; now to find some WiFi…..

Monday 9 and Tuesday 10 March 2015
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